Tiger owes more to fans in Dubai
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Tiger Woods didn’t give much value to the fans for his reported $3 million appearance fee in Dubai this week.
All tournament sponsors and officials got for that price tag is Tiger’s appearance at the Dubai Desert Classic, the perfunctory exhibition match, a few guarded interviews and very little interaction with fans.
Put it this way, if I was a school teacher marking Tiger’s report card for his first two days in Dubai, my comment would read: Must try harder – a lot harder.
We’re supposed to believe Tiger is a changed man. Sorry, don’t see it. A little scene took place late on Tuesday afternoon of tournament week that confirmed my view.
Woods finished practicing on the range and headed toward the buggy transportation ready to take him and five other players over to the flood-lit Challenge Match – an exhibition event staged to justify Woods’ appearance money.
Tournament director Adrian Flaherty approached Woods and told him that transportation was still going to be another five minutes. Woods at first turned and took a few steps wondering what he was going to do with those five minutes. Then he held a quick confab with Flaherty and IMG agent Mark Steinberg.
Flaherty pointed toward the tournament office 20 yards away and Woods went straight there. So he avoided the 100 or so fans behind the railings waiting for him. There were kids waiting with hats and programs to be signed, as well as parents with cameras hoping to get a shot of Tiger with their offspring.
Tiger could have done wonders for his image if he’d just walked over to the railings and used the hiatus to sign a few autographs, posed for pictures and interacted with the fans. It wouldn’t have taken much time, and would have endeared him to the fans here in Dubai. Instead, he hid.
The next day, Tiger turned up for his cursory media interview. He talked a lot but said little.
If Tiger really wants to change, then he needs to throw his shackles off – those shackles that hold him back from the rest of the world.
To be fair, he did sign a few autographs on the short walk from the range to his courtesy car when he finished practicing on Wednesday.
Tiger should take lessons from Phil Mickelson, who readily gives up much of his time to sign autographs and interact with fans. It isn’t asking a lot for Tiger to make himself a little more personable.
It’s the least he could do for $3 million.